WEST DOVER — Completion of Mount Snow's new West Lake snowmaking system is not likely to be ready this winter as the ski resort waits on cash from the EB-5 funding program.
"We don't know for certain yet," said Dick Deutsch, vice president of business and real estate development at Peak Resorts. "We don't think it will be. Certain parts of the system might be functioning. But again, we're kind of up in the air until this money breaks out of the escrow. And it could break today. Or it could break in three months or in six months. We just have no idea."
The federal program offers permanent residency to foreign investors. Once the first investor's source of funding is approved, Deutsch said the $52 million sitting in an escrow account will be released with $30 million going towards the West Lake project and the other $22 million to build a new ski lodge at the Carinthia face of the mountain with associated infrastructure upgrades.
The resort's plans were approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services about two months ago. Only one investor's source of funds needs to be approved in order for the money to be released, Deutsch said. The project has 104 investors altogether.
"We're extremely frustrated with the process," said Deutsch. "The Immigration Services has had some our investor petitions for over two years. I think our first investor filed his petition in May 2014. That's why we're all extremely frustrated."
The plan for now involves installing all the snowmaking pipe that has already been ordered.
"And when that's done, we'll probably slow a little bit," said Deutsch. "Hopefully, the first investor will be approved immediately and we can drawn down this money then we can work hard and get the system or as much of the system running this year. But we just don't know. We have no control."
Currently, the thinking is that the new snowmaking infrastructure won't be 100 percent functional for this year. The resort will then rely on its existing snowmaking systems: the Snow Lake Reservoir near the resort's entrance and Mirror Lake, which is shared with the Hermitage Club for its private ski resort at Haystack Mountain.
Once the West Lake pond is completed, Mount Snow will rely solely on that for its snowmaking.
"That will give us six times the amount of water storage capacity than we have right now," said Deutsch, estimating that approximately $13 million has already gone into the project. "That's why we are waiting for this $52 million, so we can reimburse ourselves the $13 million then finish up all the projects."
Contact Chris Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.